The fifth event of SailGP Season 3, the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix, took place this weekend in Saint-Tropez. Expectations were high for the Canada SailGP Team with strong support from fans both in Canada and along the French Riviera, including NFL superstar, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who flew in from Montreal to spend some time with the team and sail as a guest onboard the F50 over the weekend.
“I feel really fortunate to be here with the team. The F50s are amazing - the technology and speed is incredible! The team has my full support and I'm already looking forward to taking part in another event,” said Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
The weekend kicked off with the announcement of a unique partnership for this event between the EV Technology Group, MOKE International and the Team at Casa MOKE which was followed by VIP tours of Saint-Tropez in electric MOKEs for team members, investors and partners, as well as an exclusive party at Cap Tahiti on Thursday evening.
Then on Friday, after the official practice racing, all the Team’s visiting partners, investors, friends and family were welcomed by Founder, Fred Pye and Driver, Phil Robertson at the Team’s Meet & Greet evening which has become a highlight of SailGP events.
Racing got underway mid-afternoon on Saturday with some of the most exciting conditions that the SailGP teams had ever experienced. All the teams were put to the test in trying to find the balance between risk and speed, while keeping the assets intact for Sunday’s racing. The F50s hit record speeds flying through the water at over 90 km/hr for most of the day (the French team set a record of 99.9 km/hr!). A near capsize for the Canadians just before the finish line in Race two, was a spectacle for the thousands of spectators along the seawall in Saint-Tropez, but it meant a loss of four precious places to finish the day in eighth overall. In the debrief with Coach Joe Glanfield, the team identified three key errors that cost the team dearly on Day one.
“I’m incredibly proud of how we delivered the boat and that everyone was safe. We pushed really hard but made three errors that cost us a lot. All teams made those errors, but it didn’t cost them as much. But it’s racing and that happens,” said Canada SailGP Team Driver, Phil Robertson.
Day two offered up entirely different light air conditions which also challenged all the teams, especially the Strategists. Georgia Lewin-LaFrance was back onboard as the Strategist for the Canada SailGP Team, straight from the 49er FX Worlds in Nova Scotia.
On Sunday, Race Management was forced to shorten Race four, then cancelled Races five and six, to move straight into the final race between GBR, NZL and USA. The Canadians led for all of Race five, but were a mere three seconds shy of the finish line when the 14 minute race time limit expired. This win would have dramatically changed the outcome for the Canadians this weekend, but the cancellation of the race meant a ninth place overall for the team.
“Today was a very light air day. We didn't really fire in the first race. It was one of those days, where we were last at mark one, so you just have to roll the dice. Then we kept rolling it and rolling it, yet came last. In Race five, we were ahead and would have won the race, but I guess we missed it by three seconds. It’s a little bit weird and different, but that’s racing,” said Phil Robertson. “There is so much racing to come and the expectation is that we will only get better. We have a fighting spirit and are motivated to learn. As a new team, learning is everything.”
Looking ahead, in less than two week’s time racing will start in Cadiz for the Spain Sail Grand Prix on 24-25 September (broadcast live on TSN).
Team member and professional athlete (sailor and cyclist) Isabella Bertold will set out on her race bike tomorrow morning at first light to ride to Cadiz. The 1,100 km ride along the coast will include some of the most challenging terrain in France and Spain. This Ride for the Future aims to raise awareness of the importance of our ocean and funds for the Team’s Race For The Future partner, Ocean Wise.
“Most professional women's bike races are about 150 km in length. So, it’s not very often that I ride more than 160km in a day, yet most of the days that I have ahead of me will be longer than that, plus they will be back-to-back. Breaking down each day makes this mammoth challenge manageable, while also giving me the chance to connect with the people and communities that I will be riding through to share my message. Try to change one thing as a start, do it consistently, and before you know it, you too will have made an impact for our future,” said Isabella on the eve of her epic ride.
The Canadians now sit in 6th place overall on the event leaderboard, with plenty of racing left in the season.